If there are two things a 3D platformer cannot have, it’s a crappy camera and sluggish controls.
Super Lucky’s Tale has – guess what? – a crappy camera and sluggish controls. Those problems and the general sense that you’re playing a generic Mario imitation totally blow the potential of this cute, family-friendly game.
To Lucky’s credit, the mission variety across its four worlds isn’t bad. Some stages are totally side-scrolling, while others are 3D free-roamers where you’re out to collect four-leaf clovers at the end. And it all looks nice and colorful, if a tad bland. It’s just that actually progressing through those missions is a pain, especially if you’ve recently played the outstanding Super Mario Odyssey.
For instance, whose bright idea was it to have a 3D platformer where you can’t rotate the camera freely? It’s absolutely maddening, and not being able to look where I wanted to caused me a whole Tums bottle’s worth of stress. Instead, you can only move it in 30-or-so-degree bursts, and it just won’t go past a certain point. Every. Single. Time. And why is it even possible to die in the hub worlds, where there are no enemies? Miss a jump or catch an edge wrong and yes, you will plummet to your death even in a combat-free zone.
The controls are worse. Jumping doesn’t feel precise, and floating foes in particular are a pain to deal with. And where Lucky lands often doesn’t seem to line up with where the camera makes you think you will, resulting in untold numbers of missed jumps and/or plunges to my death. The animation and clipping bugs I encountered certainly didn’t help either.
And remember those clovers? They’re not so cute when you’re forced to go back to old levels to hunt down almost all of them, because the boss fight of each world is locked behind absurdly high clover requirements; you’ll need a whopping 80 of Super Lucky’s Tale’s 99 total clovers in order to fight the end boss. This makes Tale guilty of a severe case of artificially padding out the gameplay to get to the 8 or so hours I spent beating it. It probably should’ve only taken half that – which would’ve been fine for a $30 game. Worse, that final foe does little except highlight the camera and control problems that plague the entire campaign. Considering your reward is a quick, motion comic-style ending to the unremarkable fairy tale story that feels very much like an afterthought, it’s not much of a climax.
The semi-optional side missions may be Lucky’s highlight. I really enjoyed both the chess-style puzzles and the Marble Madness-esque pure tests of physics – probably because the camera and jumping controls are non-factors there.
Adding insult to injury, Super Lucky’s Tale is also the exact worst-case scenario for the Xbox One X: instead of the turbocharged console making a good game better, it only makes it perform like it should. The frame-rate isn’t quite smooth enough on the Xbox One S, while it’s a flawless 60fps on the X.